Information Technology Worker Burnout
Ingenious professionals in industry such as engineers, software professionals, and health care workers have insatiable demands and are not often actuated with traditional incentives such as titles and artificial promotions. Management strategies that propel others to produce their best often do not work as well with these highly skilled and specialized people (Shirom 1989). As a group, technical professionals anticipate different things from their work when compared with other employees (Shirom 1989). They detest monotony in their work and are disappointed with routine assignments.
They often times disapprove authority and prefer working in an environment of intellectual equality. They want the exemption of work and demand little or no interference in their work from the outside. The technical professional wants to be challenged and stretched. More than any employee group, technical professionals understand the need for constant growth and learning. Alteration does not threaten them but they do fear the impacts of change on their professional expertise, especially those of degeneration and burnout.
Technical professionals value the knowledge of what they do and the reasons behind their work and efforts. They are, more often than not, committed more to their discipline than a particular organization. Thus, if technical professionals are not properly motivated they will not work at their best productivity, and it may be difficult for an organization to retain them (Shirom 1989). This report will explicate on the causes, impact for IT worker burnout and also how organizations need to take steps to prevent this syndrome.
Burnout – What does it connote? The term burnout is normally used to strain symptoms in psychosocial professions. Across various definitions, burnout is described as an individual’s negative emotional experience leading to a chronic process (Maslach, 1982; Shirom, 1989). It is experienced as exhaustion on a physical, emotional and cognitive level (Pines, Aronson ; Kafry, 1981; Shirom, 1989). Most definitions include withdrawal and diminishing involvement in the job, especially by persons who have been highly involved in their work (Shirom 1989).
Figure 1: Possible influence of IT in Process of Job Stress (Source: The Structure of Computer Anxiety, 2001) If one uses a broad concept of burnout including physical fatigue and cognitive weariness (Shirom, 1989), it becomes apparent that burnout symptoms also happen in technical professions. There are studies showing burnout to exist outside the field of psychosocial work, for example in engineers (Etzion, 1988) or secretaries (Nagy, 1985).
These findings indicate that there are factors other than those inherent in a psychosocial job which may lead to burnout, such as the discrepancy between one’s expectations concerning the work and one’s experiences (Lauderdale, 1982), or stressors in the work situation (Carroll ; White, 1982; Pines et al. , 1981). In relation to this Jackson, Schwab ; Schuler (1986) have argued that burnout is associated with involving and demanding work. Job lineaments in Information Technology (IT) projects
Although exhaustion can happen in different work environments, the popular press and the research literature indicate that technology professionals are particularly susceptible. A special report on burnout in Information Week (McGee 1996) proposed that virtual office technology (e. g. , home PCs and laptops with modems, faxes, beepers, and cellular phones) and a greater-than-ever demand to keep up with alteration in technology chip in to a problem of burnout among technology professionals.